If you don’t already know, self-esteem is an essential part of maintaining our emotional and mental health. It is the foundation upon which our confidence, self-respect, and overall happiness are built. However, in today’s world, it is all too easy to allow external factors such as social media to determine our self-worth. We often fall into the trap of seeking validation from others, allowing them to define our identity. What we forget is that self-worth is the key to being happy in life.
To truly embrace our self-worth, we must take charge of our narrative and define it ourselves. First, let us look at whether or not you need to work on your self-esteem.
What defines self esteem?
Many of us unwittingly fall into the trap of seeking approval from others. We gauge our self-worth based on societal standards, social media comments and likes, material possessions, or our positions in life. While these external factors can add value to our lives, they should not be the sole basis of our self-esteem. True self-worth comes from within, from our values, beliefs, and the way we perceive ourselves.
How can I improve my self esteem?
1. Stop being a people pleaser
Many people lose themselves in the process of pleasing others. You can never make everyone happy. There will be haters. Be okay with that. Constantly seeking approval and trying to please everyone around you can be emotionally draining. The fear of rejection might lead you to compromise on your values and needs. Instead, aim on being authentic to yourself. Value your opinions and decisions, and understand that not everyone needs to approve of them. And for that, choose the right circle. You might lose friends in this process, but that also means those are meant to not be in your life.
2. Draw your boundaries
Setting healthy boundaries is crucial for protecting your self-worth and self-esteem. Understand that it is okay to say no when something doesn’t align with your values or when you need time for yourself. Boundaries are a sign of self-respect, and they show others how you expect to be treated.
3. Learn to say no
Make sure you are not saying no to yourself whenever you say yes to someone else. Prioritise your needs and desires and be mindful of your limits. Saying no when necessary is not selfish – it is an act of self-preservation.
4. Have a purpose
People moulded with a purpose do not need fancy bags, material possessions, and the ‘likes’ of social media to prove their worth as their self-esteem stems from living and contributing to something greater than themselves. Purpose-driven individuals find fulfilment in their passions, values, and meaningful goals, allowing them to break free from the shackles of external validation and embrace their true worth with confidence and contentment.
Tips to build self-esteem
Building self-appreciation is a powerful way to reinforce your sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Here are some self-appreciation exercises for you to try:
1. Find a quiet and pleasant space where you can relax and concentrate on yourself.
2. Take a deep breath and center yourself in the present moment.
3. Write a letter to yourself or record a sincere voice message thanking you for being you.
4. Mention things you love about yourself, your strengths, your unique qualities, and the progress you have made in life.
5. Be polite, compassionate, and sincere in your speech or writing when talking to a close friend.
6. Save the voicemail or letter and make it accessible for future hearing or reading.
7. Set aside time regularly to listen to the voice note or read the letter, letting the words of self-appreciation seep into your subconscious mind.
8. Pay attention to the pleasant sentiments and emotions that come up when you read or hear your own words of praise for yourself.
9. Repeat this exercise as much as needed, especially during moments when you feel underappreciated or under-acknowledged.
The only person defining your self-worth and self-esteem should be you, not your parents, teachers, managers, bosses, friends, and lovers. You and just you. And if you do not define it, someone else will for you.